The Washington Times-Herald

January 11, 2013

Barr-Reeve School Board handles new business

Tax Referendum Open Meeting on Jan. 22

By Andrea McCann
Washington Times Herald

MONTGOMERY — New officers were elected at the first meeting of the Barr-Reeve Community Schools Board of School Trustees, with Joe Cummings serving as president, Scott Lottes as vice president, and Galen Graber as secretary for 2013.

In addition, in a Board of Finance meeting, Cummings was elected president and Graber secretary. Graber was reelected to the board in the November general election, so he was given the oath of office, as well.

In other new-year business, the board approved a resolution to transfer and encumber appropriations. The move allows the corporation treasurer to move unspent, unencumbered funds from 2012 to the 2013 books, according to Superintendent Travis Madison. He said money is not moved between funds; it stays in the same fund but may be moved from one use to another within the fund to keep everything “in the black.”

Madison gave the board members detailed information on the end-of-year transfers, which they approved, along with the ECA treasurer’s report.

In other new business, the board accepted a field trip as educational. Stephanie O’Brian will take band members to the Rhythm Discovery Center in Indianapolis today, and they’ll also hear the Indianapolis Symphony. Funds for the field trip were donated by Psi Iota Xi Sorority.

Chastity Sward and Aaron Ash were approved to attend Harmony training at North Daviess Elementary School Tuesday. Six other teachers also were approved for professional development: Gwen Graber, Abbie Swartzentruber, Susan Jacobs, Kerri Boyd, Annetta Graber and Tracey Nowaskie will attend the annual textbook fair in Huntingburg Feb. 5.

Under personnel, the board accepted the retirement letter of Jean Hand, who has taught at Barr-Reeve for 27 years. The board members expressed their thanks and best wishes to Hand. She’s the seventh teacher to accept a $25,000 retirement incentive.

“She’s done a wonderful job for us,” said Madison, who had Hand in fourth grade and whose child also had her as a teacher last year.

The board also approved the termination of custodian Kyle Wittmer and the hiring of Justin Seal as first-shift custodian and Jeff Divine for second shift. In addition, they accepted the resignation of food service manager Michelle Davis and the hiring of Janet Swartzentruber to replace her.

In his report to the board, Madison said he received a number of phone calls from concerned parents following the shootings at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn. He said some security upgrades already were under discussion or in process at the time, and he sent a letter to parents.

The superintendent said every entrance will be monitored by a sensor and camera so someone in the office can see on a monitor who’s there, and a buzzer system will be implemented at the front doors.

“Another thing we’re looking into is putting electronic locks on our doors,” Madison said, explaining a card would be used for entrance rather than a key. A backup battery system would be in place for those times when power is out for brief periods; for longer power outages, there would be select people with keys.

Doors often propped open will be equipped with sensors to alert the office that the door has been left open, and there’s been some discussion of a “panic button” in the office. Madison said all classroom doors already automatically lock when closed for the ease of teachers when there’s a lockdown, and some staff members attend a safety seminar annually.

Madison also said he conferred with Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit and deputies familiar with Barr-Reeve schools and community to see what they believe the schools could do better in the way of security.

When new protocols are put into place, he said, he will notify parents.

Before adjourning the meeting, Madison also updated board members on the referendum process.

“I had a good meeting with community members who are going to be on a steering committee,” he said, adding that he got good feedback.

There will be an open meeting for the public at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 in the school cafeteria. At that time, Madison will explain the need for the referendum and the process, and he’ll answer questions. He said he’ll also be happy to meet with any group that would like him to attend a meeting and discuss the subject.

“We’re in a good position,” Madison said. “We’re ready to go.”